Ayutthaya is one of those places that is on the to-do list but can easily get pushed aside for another more elusive weekend trip. One reason I've heard a couple times is since it's so close to Bangkok--a travel base for many people--it's really easy to just say "Oh that's just a day trip, I can do that ANY time" and opt for a more ~once in a life time~ weekend activity. But what isn't once in a life time about a beautiful city of ruined temples?
Here you can see Joey walking around the ruins of Wat Phra Ram
Which is why it actually took us a while to decide to finally do this trip. But I'm really glad I did and it was one of my favorite weekends in Thailand thus far.
Joey and I took a mini-bus from one of the stations outside of Victory Monument BTS (about 60 baht each) and were shuttled off to Ayutthaya within a half hour. Apparently it's a common scam that they try to drop you off a few blocks away from the bus station and claim it's the "last stop" but it's not. Tuk tuk drivers wait around like vultures with laminated photo cards of popular tourist destinations. We just brushed them away and walked the 10 minutes to our hostel but it definitely would have been possible to just refuse to get off the bus and demand to be taken to the bus station (where they are supposed to be taking you anyway.)
I highly recommend renting a motorbike (and bringing an actual passport in order to rent it!) It's not difficult to maneuver (or eventually get the hang of, at least) and you suddenly have a ton of options for when and where you want to visit sights by not being bound to tuk tuks and taxis. Ayutthaya is an island and you have to go on a medium size freeway overpass bridgey thing to get to the sites outside of town, requiring motorbike or tuk tuk. Bicycles are always an option if you can't stomach a motorbike but it IS hot and spread out (plus driving in Ayutthaya is much more mellow in comparison to that of Chiang Mai or Bangkok. By a lot. So don't let being afraid hold you back.)
Traffic isn't the only thing that's more mellow about Ayutthaya! The temples are definitely the main reason people visit the once glorious capital of Siam, and it's evident in the lack of nightlife and foodie establishments. That's not to say that there aren't bars and delicious food because there totally are. I just wouldn't plan a weekend around it. I did get an amazing bowl of boat noodles at Lex Noodles near Wat Mahathat (pretty much in the center of Ayutthaya) and a great cappuccino and espresso nearby at Malakor café which was really reasonably priced at about two dollars for coffee and a piece of toast with a choice of toppings (chocolate, peanut butter, or condensed milk, etc.) Down the road there is a cute little night market in the center of the main island.
Rice Noodles with Pork. MMMMMMmmmm
Night Market at Ayutthaya: a smallish market but great snacks!
I'm going to fill the rest of this blog with pictures to hopefully encourage you to take a day or two to visit. I definitely recommend staying one night so you don't attempt to cram a ton of stuff into one day. One night and a 24 hour motorbike rental was easily less than 1000 baht, split between two people and you basically have no excuse to not go (although keep in mind though it IS 50 baht entrance fee to almost every temple; in my opinion, totally worth it. No complaints here).
If you can spend just a day in Ayutthaya be sure to check out at the very least Wat Chai Wattaram, Wat Phra Si Sanpet, and Wat Mahathat. Probably my favorites of the day, though I really enjoyed the simple (relatively, of course) but beautiful Wat Phra Ram and more active Wat Yai Chai Mongkol.
Until next time!